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Sustainability center names three new associate directors

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The Cornell Center for a Sustainable Future (CCSF) has named three new associate directors who will use their expertise in three key areas -- energy, environment and economic development -- to head initiatives and connect Cornell's research and scholarship related to sustainability.

They are:

"Researchers across Cornell may not know other researchers working in related areas," said Frank DiSalvo, CCSF's director and the John A. Newman Professor of Physical Science. "We want an interactive accomplished team to help connect people together."

While groups like Sustainable Cornell and the President's Climate Commitment Implementation Committee work internally to bring Cornell closer to carbon neutrality, CCSF's agenda is more outwardly focused. As an umbrella organization for Cornell's diverse sustainability resources -- including institutes, centers and some 300 faculty members focused on green issues -- CCSF also will work with select external partners to put those resources to work for the world.

The center seeks to attract targeted funding by creating teams of researchers across colleges who can collaborate on such specific issues as solar research. By creating such teams in advance, Cornell will be positioned and eligible in advance to qualify for large grants when they become available. For example, British Petroleum recently gave the University of California $500 million over 10 years to work on biofuels research, said DiSalvo.

"You can compete for those things if you already have teams organized around an issue," he said. "And with those kinds of resources, you can really change what you are doing in research and education."

The center will also help provide resources for bridging (hiring young faculty a few years prior to a faculty member's retirement) and attracting new hires interested in sustainability research. For example, CCSF helped Cornell attract Jeffrey Tester '66, M.S. '67, the first Croll Professor of Sustainable Energy Systems in the College of Engineering, away from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Similarly, many universities regularly make offers to key Cornell faculty involved in such cutting-edge sustainability research as developing biodegradable polymers and other sustainable technologies. To retain such faculty members, CCSF will work with Cornell's various colleges to create incentives to stay at Cornell.

The CCSF is also working to increase internal and external communication and visibility regarding Cornell's sustainability efforts, DiSalvo said.

Other key CCSF staff include Helene Schember, former associate director of the Cornell Center for Materials Research and the executive director of the CCSF, who manages the center's internal workings, and David Dieterich, a former senior executive at Kodak and the partnerships director of the CCSF, who will assist groups of faculty in seeking alliances with external partners.


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Krishna Ramanujan